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Piracy The Internet

Dutch Usenet Provider Ordered To Remove Infringing Content 109

dutchwhizzman writes "Amsterdam-based Usenet wholesale provider News Service Europe has been mandated by a court to remove all copyright-infringing content on their servers, or face severe financial penalties. Dutch copyright organization BREIN has won a court case making the Usenet provider responsible for the content posted on platforms other than their own. Could this be the end of Usenet as we know it, or will an appeal be won by NSE? Why didn't the judge make the provider that allowed the posts responsible? Why didn't the judge honor the 'cancel message' procedure that technically exists in the NNTP protocol?"
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Dutch Usenet Provider Ordered To Remove Infringing Content

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  • News-Service.com sold their services to the likes of Binverse and Usenext, so it's not really surprising. While it takes away sad piece of history, the leeches and warez destroyed it. While some people still use it for talking, for the common people and most of the world it's just like BitTorrent. Not like I agree with the situation, but if something that is a major problem needs to be shut down and for the few using it for legal purposes need to move to something else, well, it's not surprise move.

    • by mwvdlee ( 775178 )

      But it's not stopping for the handful of people still using NNTP for discussions.
      I am curious as to how they will determine what is and is not copyright-infringing content.

      • Re:usenet warez (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Anthony Mouse ( 1927662 ) on Friday September 30, 2011 @05:50PM (#37572494)

        I am curious as to how they will determine what is and is not copyright-infringing content.

        By shutting down access to everything, obviously. There is no other possible way to do it because there is no automated way to determine who the copyright owner for a piece of text is or whether it was properly licensed.

        • by hicksw ( 716194 )

          Just require the evil bit to be zero for legal content.

          It should be easy enough to monitor that.
          I think I just sprained my sarcasm tendon.

      • And that's the problem, it's only a handful of users it seems. I was on there for ages even into this millenium. But the number of useful and usable groups diminished as more and more of them got taken over by spam. Once enough users have left it becomes pointless to try and have good discussions.

        I liked the one-stop model of usenet; all forums were there from everywhere. Local classified ads up through high level discussion of what should be in technical standards. And an interface you could pick and

    • by Luckyo ( 1726890 )

      Spammers destroyed usenet. Web forums and BBSs destroyed usenet.

      "Leeches and warez" did no such thing. No one forces you to look into .bin.

      • A lot of BBSers migrated from the BBSes to Usenet in the 90's. I used both for a while, but the signal to noise in usenet was too poor for a long time, at least most of the spammers are gone now. Also, NNTP is used today for some BBS message nets.
    • While searching for some foreign music, I ran into a 'catchall' on Google...

      They'd gotten a take-down notice for including search results about licensed anime, on blog and database sites -- that included no downloads or links to downloads...

      Now we are talking not just going after linkers, but linkers to people who even talk about the content.

      The takedown notice to google (to block search results -- freedom of speech) [chillingeffects.org],
      shows the list of sites I first ran into...then I ran into a real hi

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Such a shame. Usenet was a tiny little holdout of what the internet used to be. Crazy, lawless, illegal, sometimes informative, and full of porn and spam.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      Yea, its so much better now that we got rid of all the porn, spam, and illegal stuff.

    • by DNS-and-BIND ( 461968 ) on Friday September 30, 2011 @05:03PM (#37572066) Homepage
      The internet never "used to be" like that, and USENET was never full of porn and spam, either. Believe it or not, there were people online before you ever got your first AOL floppy disk delivered to your house by junk mail.
      • I remember those!

        I used to bulk send requests for trials, then use a roll of masking tape to cover the write protect hole. Free floppies!

        It's a shame they stopped the practice after cds. Getting a bunch of usb sticks in the mail would make me feel like a kid again. :)

      • I started using usenet around , maybe 93? Back when here in australia the only internet I could get was a crazy little BBS run by a couple of paraplegic guys turned ISP that boasted of its 128kb ISDN connection to the local university back when all internet in australia was run by the universities and they where starting to lease connections out to private providers. Getting TCP/IP to work properly with MS-DOS proved beyond my technical skills at the time and TCP/IP just didn't exist on my minix machine. Wh

    • by lgw ( 121541 ) on Friday September 30, 2011 @05:11PM (#37572140) Journal

      Such a shame. Usenet was a tiny little holdout of what the internet used to be. Crazy, lawless, illegal, sometimes informative, and full of porn and spam

      That's called the "deep web" now: crazy, lawless, illegal, sometimes informative, and full of porn and spam. I wonder whether that will take off, or join freenet in the margins.

    • by nurb432 ( 527695 )

      I have to disagree, as in the old days, it was *not* full of spam. Now, porn and lawlessness, that is another story ;)

      At least there is still freenet. ( until draconian bandwidth caps effectively kill that off )

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Duh, Judges judge law, they don't know technical protocols and unless outlined and understood properly they are poorly equiped to issue judgements based on the information they receive by prosecutors and defense attorneys... imho :-)

    • Re:Judges!=Techies (Score:5, Insightful)

      by QuasiSteve ( 2042606 ) on Friday September 30, 2011 @05:07PM (#37572102)

      You're right, judges aren't techies.

      That means that they look at the technical arguments the defendants put forth, examine them, say "nice try", and then agree with the rebuttal that these news server admins who take membership fees for their services which exists largely as the hosting and distribution of material for which they have no implicit or explicit permission to do so, know damn well that this is how their service is used and thus that their service operates on the boundaries of the law at best.
      The boundaries were just shifted, again.

      I'm guessing they'll appeal, though.

      • The courts have been bought and sold for a long time. As long as the rich and corporations can buy laws citizens are not obligated to obey them.

  • by CohibaVancouver ( 864662 ) on Friday September 30, 2011 @04:57PM (#37572016)

    Could this be the end of Usenet as we know it

    Usenet as I knew it was a bulletin board system for worldwide discussion of all kinds of subjects under the sun, from politics to auto mechanics to cigars to, of course, Star Trek - For me it was never a place to download gigabytes of binaries of Fringe episodes. To me, SPAM killed usenet, not a binaries ban.

    • For me it was more the 4chan like behavior, as usenet was totally unmoderated in many channels.

      True, the endless barrage of penis enlargement and work at home ads didn't help any, the constant stream of "show me your boobs" type posts in totally inappropriate channels was a show stopper.

      Eventually, all it was good for was downloading porn and pirate software.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 30, 2011 @05:10PM (#37572132)

      Register on eternal-september.org and it still can be. They dropped all .binaries forums and only host the primarily text based discussions, which allow them to mirror the majority of important usenet stuff for only a fraction of the bandwidth. Even better they have options to allow mirorring of their copies.

    • You lived a very sheltered USENET life.

      From the beginning, the half-smirking explicit intent of the majority of the alt.* hierarchy was "megabytes of copyright violations."

      The wild west was wild. Now the agribusiness farmers have moved in, platted the range, put up miles of barbed wire, and will hang you for the most innocuous cattle rustling.

      But yes, the spam (aka bills and signs nailed up on every tree and fencepost) didn't help either.

      • Yep.

        Usenet was about 5 years before my time, but I still recall the days we thought the Net was the Great Frontier.

        But now after spending Mega Billions, some 200 Corps plus 30 Governments hauled all of the net into a Big Brother nightmare.

      • From the beginning, the half-smirking explicit intent of the majority of the alt.* hierarchy was "megabytes of copyright violations."

        This is not at all true. Ignorant people shouldn't make up shit.
        • by jgrahn ( 181062 )

          From the beginning, the half-smirking explicit intent of the majority of the alt.* hierarchy was "megabytes of copyright violations." This is not at all true. Ignorant people shouldn't make up shit.

          I can confirm that. In the 1991--1995 timeframe (which isn't at all early in Usenet's history), alt.* was like any other hierarchy, plus some really alternative groups like alt.suicide.holiday, alt.drugs.*, alt.fan.* and so on. There might have been some stuff in alt.binaries.* but back then it made more sense to bury the stuff in some obscure corner of your Uni FTP server.

          It wasn't until many years later I learned that some people saw Usenet as a big warez server. That still pisses me off -- it's destruct

          • by rs79 ( 71822 ) <hostmaster@open-rsc.org> on Saturday October 01, 2011 @07:25AM (#37575936) Homepage

            Correct. I created alt.aquaria (indirectly) and alt.sex (indirectly) and comp.fonts and all the aquaria groups and alt.prose and christ knows what else.

            Brian Reid was my best friend on the net back then (and still is) and he created alt. It wasn't created for warez, it was created because Brian was pissed off his recipes group got turfed by Gene Spafford. John Gilmore wanted alt.drugs so they created those two groups, quietly snuck the into decwrl and the rest is history. alt.aquaria was the 7th alt group

            Henry Hardy wrote hos masters thesis on this. You can check for yourself online.

      • by illtud ( 115152 )

        From the beginning, the half-smirking explicit intent of the majority of the alt.* hierarchy was "megabytes of copyright violations."

          No it wasn't, newbie. Get off my lawn.

        alt.* was outside the offical hierarchy, but was still text discussion, not copyright infringement - check out the archives.

    • There was a time when patches were distributed via usenet. I haven't touched it since technology shifted to web interfaces, subversion clients, etc.

      But as far as I can recall, it was always rife with spam, offtopic posts, script kiddies, porn, and illegal binaries.

      I won't mourn usenet any more than I mourn the kermit protocols.

      Sad that another company's business is going the way of the dodo, but that's life.

      • It wasn't always rife with that stuff. Once the alt.* stuff showed up it became more popular, then after the awful day when AOL was unleashed it was worse. But you could still find alternate newsgroups. Ie, you might find a moderated group that paired with the unmoderated ones, and the technical groups weren't inundated with asshats. Over time it just deteriorated with spam. The only alternatives were BBSs which were pretty awful, or maybe compuserve.

        Interesting note... When I was first out of school

    • Usenet was decaying slowly for years, but the big hit was in 2008 when Andrew Cuomo scored political points by getting ISPs to drop parts of the usenet hierarchy that he claimed were full of child pornography. What ended up happening was that ISPs just started dropping usenet service completely. A ton of people gave up on usenet at that point rather than pay a provider. You could use web interfaces, but they sucked. After that, I basically no longer could use usenet to communicate with the people I wanted t

      • Started? ISPs started dropping usenet well before then. My first ISP gave new subscribers a floppy disk with web, mail, news, FTP, and telnet programs on it. By the late '90s, most people only cared about the first two, so ISPs stopped advertising NNTP and FTP, and eventually dropped them. My ISP still has NNTP servers that sometimes work - they periodically turn them off, then notice that their external bandwidth bill has gone up a lot as people turn to third-party NNTP servers, and turn them back on a
  • by Anonymous Coward
    before the mouth breathers and their lawyers understood how to use the internet and we could enjoy it with impunity,
  • Once again they point fingers at the hammer, while the thief gets away...
  • Near-car analogy (Score:5, Insightful)

    by airfoobar ( 1853132 ) on Friday September 30, 2011 @05:13PM (#37572162)

    Dear government. You provide the streets, therefore you are responsible for all crimes taking place on said streets. If you cannot stop all crimes on the streets you will face severe penalties.

    Therefore, I conclude that this is fucking stupid.

    • Ah, but governments are special.

      Besides which, although there is certainly crime that occurs which takes place on said streets, a far greater amount of non-crime takes place on those streets.
      This cannot be said for the news servers in question.

      In addition, the streets weren't created for the facilitation of said crimes.
      While some news servers may have originally been set up purely for the discussions, the servers in question most certainly were not.

      Finally (as far as this post goes), as alien as it may seem

  • by squidflakes ( 905524 ) on Friday September 30, 2011 @05:15PM (#37572182) Homepage

    Ok, fess up you guys. Who told the government about USENET?

    • Some 12 year old AOLer back in 1990.

      It just took this long for the court clerks to figure out how to use NNTP. You know how hard such new fangled technology is for them.

      Just wait till they figure out facebook!

      • /me too

  • Is it me or is https://torrentfreak.com/major-usenet-provider-ordered-to-remove-all-infringing-content-110929/ [torrentfreak.com] untrusted? My Mozilla's SeaMonkey v2.0.14 web browser says:

    "torrentfreak.com uses an invalid security certificate.

    The certificate is not trusted because it is self-signed.
    The certificate is not valid for any server names.
    The certificate expired on 2/9/2011 6:43 AM.

    (Error code: sec_error_expired_issuer_certificate)"

    ELinks v0.12pre5 says "SSL Error".

    • by dgatwood ( 11270 )

      Even more curious, Safari shows the content, but does not show the lock icon in the corner of the window. Filed a bug.

  • They waited till Friday to announce this. Bad news is best broken on Fridays.
  • by Obfuscant ( 592200 ) on Friday September 30, 2011 @05:45PM (#37572440)
    The "cancel" doesn't exist in the NNTP protocol. NNTP is a protocol for transporting news articles, one of which may be a cancel control message as defined in USEFOR and USEPRO.

    The answer to why server admins don't honor cancel control messages is simple: they are routinely and regularly abused and honoring them would make USENET unusable.

    This decision will be the death knell for USENET. Making server admins responsible for monitoring content will get them to turn it off.

  • How do they know what content is copyright infringing?
  • Snuff the binaries groups and improve Usenet. It will still be spammy though.

  • by Tom ( 822 ) on Friday September 30, 2011 @06:00PM (#37572600) Homepage Journal

    Why didn't the judge honor the 'cancel message' procedure that technically exists in the NNTP protocol?"

    Because that's implementation details that the judge doesn't and shouldn't care about. If they want to remove the content that way, he'll decide whether or not that's good enough to count as compliance. But the job of the judge is to decide what should be done, not how.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    database sites that generate NZB files. Makes it easier for the technologically illiterate to use it, therefore brings it onto the radar...

  • Not in the USA: we have the DMCA "safe harbor" provisions.

    • Yeah, tell that to my ISP that decided to get rid of it just because they don't want to risk taking a risk with a risk of risking risk with risk.. yadda yadda...

      My provider's name is Time Warner.

  • The Dutch were notorious for abusing Usenet binaries. They would post floods (ignoring upload limits in group rules, such as uploading whole TV seasons all at once), post off-topic binaries (such as US cartoons in anime groups), post passworded archive binaries, and worst of all, they had warez-exchange programs using Usenet as a file transfer protocol that meant they didn't have to care, much less know, what Usenet was. Basically, they used alt.binaries.* as their own personal file dump. And their news adm

  • How does this spell the end of usenet? There are way more providers than this one.
  • Could this be the end of Usenet as we know it?

    For those of us that were around before Usenet existed, and watched it overtake local dial-up BBSs i can assure you that Usenet effectively died a long time ago. The Usenet of today is just a obscure shadow of what it was at its height.

  • ... the provider did offer a YouTube-type "if you tell us we'll remove it" deal but BREIN didn't want that. BREIN ultimately wanted to create a precedent where the owner of a service is solely responsible for finding out which content infringes on random copyright, remove it from their servers and from everybody else who downloaded it.

    • by laffer1 ( 701823 )

      If this were applied in general, search engines, video and blog sites, and anyone hosting a message board/forum would have to shut their sites down. It's stupid and shows a judge that hasn't got a clue how the Internet works. IF they should go after anyone, it should be the poster of the content not the service providers.

    • the provider did offer a YouTube-type "if you tell us we'll remove it" deal but BREIN didn't want that.

      Well, let's be honest... can you blame them?

      Presume for a second that you're a content 'owner' in terms of having the sole distribution rights for that content.

      You find such a site, and you find that your content is hosted on that site.
      You realize the site has such a "if you tell us we'll remove it" option, but it comes with a long list of provisions which you have to fulfill, and the document has to be (d

      • by guruevi ( 827432 )

        If as a content owner, you want copyright on your stuff and make money out of it I feel you have to protect it on your own. The government already grants you monopoly status on the content through copyright laws but in this and many other cases copyright owners also want the government to protect them against any costs made to protect such status and put those costs back onto society which has already been deprived by the simple asserting of copyright. Copyright is a privilege, not a "right". If you can't m

  • alt.nuke.the.usa
  • by jon3k ( 691256 )
    phpBB (and other messageboards, like vBulletin) killed usenet.
  • that the only remaining purpose of USENET is accessing binaries of pirate material, than it's day has long past. The only requirement to apply this decision is to remove the binaries newsgroups. and maybe some post filtering as well. That will cut down 90+ percent of the data traffic.

Kill Ugly Processor Architectures - Karl Lehenbauer